Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Beanie is upset because some people at work won't leave her alone. No matter where she is, they're either nearby or talking loud enough for her to hear. They are making their presence known and felt. She can't understand why they're so bent on bugging her because she doesn't understand human nature -- at least in this regard. It's simple. When you're important to someone they need to make sure you don't lose sight -- or sound -- of them.
The relationship may be dysfunctional or just plain bad, but the idea of you not being in their lives, even on the periphery, is something they just cannot accept. It's what makes stalkers tick. They need to make sure you don't forget them. It's not always healthy. It often leads to ugly scenes and escalating actions to keep your attention focused on them. They're like wounds that never heal, scabs they keep picking to keep the blood flowing.
I've heard it said that if you let something go and it comes back, it was meant to be. I think if you let something go and it keeps coming back, the past is not going to die. It's like a ghost -- or more likely a poltergeist -- that you've acknowledged and released that has decided it is not better in the light. It's better where it can bother you and remind you of its existence, and that's because it cares and doesn't want your relationship to die.
People move into and out of our lives all the time. Some people stick around and, all too often, the ones we want to stick around don't always stay. It's hard to let someone go when they've been an integral part of your life. Even if it ended badly, if you never really got closure and things were never settled, it's like a poltergeist knocking pictures off walls and moving furniture and possessions around to remind you you're not alone. It's hard to end something if there really hasn't been an ending, if things were never really settled. Questions linger and there's a hole in the middle of your life that can't be filled by new friends or work or parties or clubs or all the self help books in the world. You can ignore it and hope it will finally heal but chances are it won't heal.
A lot of people, my mother included, try to fill the whole with things, the old shop till you drop therapy. That never works. Some people try to fill the whole with anger and unfulfilling memberships in clubs and organizations. It only makes the hole that much more noticeable. There are people who use sex, drugs and rock and roll to fill the hole. It doesn't help. And some try to fill the void with work. The work suffers and the hole gapes wider. Not even the pink suede elephant in the middle of the room no one acknowledges will fill the hole. And prayer won't help either. The only thing that works is finding or writing an ending.
In a way, it's like a literary story that stop in mid thought as though the world ended or the author died before he could finish, and it is probably why Hollywood movies are so successful. There's always an end.
Situations like these can also be compared to wars. There are the all out bloody and destructive wars with casualties on both sides where the combatants just drift back to their own countries and lives before a winner is declared or a peace treaty signed. Who knows when hostilities will flare up again -- or how often? Then there are the cold wars, covert wars that rely on spies and propaganda that go on and on and on until someone decides to bring down the wall or agree to a Détente. Neither situation is ideal because there's always a feeling of animosity and distrust between the central parties. In this kind of war, most of the damage is collateral. There has to be a peace treaty or a demilitarized zone set up where both parties know the boundaries and are willing to respect them, otherwise the combatants feel unsettled and living in limbo without any idea of what happened and if or when the war is finally over.
As long as the ghosts of relationships past keep intruding, one thing is certain: you are still important to them. I'm not sure if that is a comfort or a curse. At least it's power. Be careful how you use it.